And the list goes on and on…with ABC News reporting 31 school shootings in the U.S. since the Columbine incident in 1999. Think Progress lists a tragic timeline of mass shootings since Columbine.The New Republic reports that “Mass Shootings Are on the Rise–And 2012 Has Been Deadlier Than Ever Before.”
Those who have experienced it are forever traumatized. Even if not physically present, our nation has experienced it and our students, teachers, and the general public are traumatized. Headlines read, “Police, world wonder…” and “motive a mystery” and “Why are mass shootings becoming more common?” and “no answers.”
When I can’t find an answer in the physical world, that’s when I come to realize I’m looking in the wrong place. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. As spiritual beings, we’ve been given a spiritual DNA, a human triumvirate made up of Faith, Hope and Love. (I Corinthians 13:13 tells us that these three ABIDE – remain as a part of us – faith, hope and love.) When we aren’t tapping into these sources of our being, our lives are going to be out of balance.
For today, I really want to focus on HOPE because there are Hope Thieves everywhere around us (and we don’t want to be in danger of becoming one either). Hope is one important element to our wholeness.
Someone once said, “without hope, life is meaningless,” but what I heard was, “without hope, life is mean and less.”
As I’ve contemplated on HOPE, I truly feel in my heart that I first have to hope for something before I can begin building my faith on the matter. I think a lot of people are living mean and less lives because they’ve allowed their hope to be stolen. As we are presently abiding in the season of Light (in which I’ll personally celebrate my Savior coming into the world), it’s no wonder that the hope thief would come to try to kill and steal (as God’s Word explains) and to extinguish that light in His people. Therefore, when besieged by troubles, I implore of you – Do NOT lose your hope.
Hope becomes my spiritual VISIONING process – the way my mind can see things as a possibility to be able to move in the direction of God’s destiny for my life. Yet, if my hope gets demolished early on, my faith may likely never be able to begin to sprout or grow. If my hope gets squashed, my faith can’t produce any fruit.
God’s Word emphasizes Hope’s importance in us knowing HIM.
What is HOPE, anyway? When I was growing up, I can remember my best friend’s mom saying, “Put hope in one hand and spit in the other and see which one gets filled the fastest.” So hope was something that wasn’t going to be fulfilled by her definition (and the process of trying was going to be disgusting). With many of us, it’s often a vague wish or a best case scenario when things don’t look so good.
“Hoping for the best” is just a singular side of HOPE that, in and of itself, won’t give you the base you need on its own. It won’t be enough alone. It has to be combined in FAITH and LOVE to be complete.
Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
If the enemy can squash the fruit of our faith by early-on demolishing our hope, the victory of the hope thieves can be assured.
I conducted a quick, informal, convenience survey on Facebook & received 27 responses almost immediately.
Why don’t you take a moment to reflect on the same question that I asked of my FB pals?
‘What steals your hope?’
As you can see, the hope thief has been working overtime in some of my friends’ lives. So what should we do if we want to keep a thief away?
We keep watch. (We have to be responsible for identifying this loss of hope in ourselves and in others, and LOVING enough to take practical action.)
I Thessalonians 5:6 tells us:
So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clear-headed.
The King James version says “to be sober” in place of alert & clear-headed. But in going back to Strong’s concordance for an explanation of the Greek, this phrase means “free from negative influences.” Look at that list above again. It’s filled with negative influences. Where God’s Word tells us that the Thief came to steal and kill and destroy lives (through negative influences), Jesus says:
In an ideal world, that abundance would be accepted by all and lived out by all. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world where many have given up on hope and abundance – and it affects us all.
On that practical note, here’s some more news about HOPE that’s both bad and good. Hope doesn’t really come from pretty places – often we’re thousands of feet in the air, in the fog, in a plane running out of fuel before the thought to even have HOPE ever springs to mind! Or perhaps in a very dark moment following a horrific, senseless tragedy. As was the case of the Apostle Paul when he penned these ironic words:
Romans 5:3-5: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Strangely, Hope springs forth from a seed of suffering…and then, more surprisingly, it has the ability to grow into something so much greater – to actually produce Love. How can this be, especially in the midst of horrific circumstances?
In times like today, when I reflect on these senseless, tragic shootings that have taken so many lives – ironically at a time when the world speaks of peace on Earth and goodwill towards men, I can nearly see myself frantically searching around, tearing up the place, desperately searching for my lost hope. Where did I put it? Where could it be? Like the woman Jesus mentioned in Scripture, turning her house upside down – calling on her friends to help her find it…
And that’s what we must do. We should call on others to help us find it – our hope. We should support one another in community. Yet, most importantly of all, we must find the most important key of all to maintaining our HOPE in those dark hours. The answer can be found directly, without question:
Psalm 39:7 – And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
But how, you ask? Let’s go to Scripture once more for the answer:
Psalm 25:5 – Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
We have to let him guide us (in His truth, not the world’s), teach us AS a Savior, and don’t miss the part where we have to be willing to do it not a portion of the day, but…ALL DAY LONG!!!!!!! That’s what it means for our Human Triumvirate of Faith, Hope & Love to ABIDE. We are to abide in Him – all the day long.
Hope is not something we can conjure up on our own – it’s NOT a WISH. Our Hope is found in HIM – He has to guide us to it, to teach us how to bring it forth & we have to be willing to exercise on this All Day Long.
I think when people don’t find their HOPE IN HIM, it becomes dormant; it collapses. When it’s not sustained, any vision we might have had from HOPE can die. Take heart. If your Hope has withered away, it can be Resurrected. That’s what the Resurrection of the Christ means to us.
Things that are dead (that have been destroyed)…CHRIST’S HOPE can bring back to LIFE. Christ came so that we might have life – ETERNAL. He specializes in the Resurrection of the dead. His divine current can Resurrect your hope – allow it to rise up and triumph over a deadened & numbed spirit! That’s the Good News!
Ways to Resurrect Hope IN CHRIST – by looking at examples of different types of Resurrection Jesus brought about:
- It can happen in an unexpected instant (the woman’s son who was being carried by the processional of mourners).
- It can happen when it appears that it is absolutely too late (Jesus waited until the fourth day for Lazarus’ resurrection).
- It can happen when we’ve been told it will, but we keep trying not to believe (Jesus’ own Resurrection).
- In all cases, it’s done BY him and THROUGH Him – out of His love & compassion for us.
I pray that we can have that same LOVE and compassion for others, to help hold them up in FAITH when they are crumbling in despair, and to be HOPE givers when thieves have tried to steal their last bit of hope.
Call recompense to the thief by speaking AFFIRMATIVES of HOPE to others’ lives today. In this way, we also serve to resurrect both their spirits and our own.
Acknowledge the words of the psalmist & song:
My life is in you, Lord, my strength is in you, Lord, my hope is in you,
Lord, in you, it’s in you!
For me, this is the hope that the babe of Christmas Day brings, as the Son of God breaks into this world to become the Son of Man, to reside among us in the midst of our brokenness.
My most sincere prayers to those parents, family members, friends and all others who are presently feeling the searing pain of these tragic losses. May you find hope and peace in knowing that there is a God who chooses to suffer with us in the midst of our trials and chose to suffer for us before we were even known. May your faith be sustained in the hope of His glory and may you feel His merciful presence in your lives through the love poured out by those surrounding you, both physically and in the spiritual realm.
Grace & peace to you, -jody